As Winter quarter comes to a close, we’d like to thank all our Gaucho supporters, pledged members, faculty, and administration for supporting our CALPIRG chapter and work to protect the environment, address the high cost of college materials, and promote civic engagement!
This quarter, we launched off our campaigns with 78 people at our Kickoff Meeting in January and had 70 volunteers involved in our peak week! With 23 core interns and 5 board members, we are ready to keep making social change on our five campaigns: Plastic-Free Seas, Affordable Textbooks, New Voters Project, Phase out Oil and Gas Drilling, and 100% Renewable Energy Campus.
We would particularly like to thank AS Senate, especially resolution sponsors Addinall, Swanson, and Moon, and co-sponsors Campos, Rojas, and Etessami, for passing resolutions in support of our Plastics, Textbooks, and 100% campaigns this quarter!
The issue of plastic pollution is one that has sparked environmental activism all across the world. Single-use plastics we are using on average for 12 minutes will be around, polluting our environment for hundreds of years. The damage being done to marine wildlife is unignorable. Building off our work to get the UC-system to move away from single-use plastics, UCLA announced new policy plans to remove unnecessary single-use plastics from foodservice! Our CALPIRG Chapters across the state also mobilized to build support for SB54 and AB1080, a set of statewide bills that make up the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. After signing up over 860 dues-paying members in support and gathering thousands more petitions across the state, generating phone calls in to elected officials, and building media attention on the issue, here we are meeting with our Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson!
New Voters Project
On Election Day, young people will be the largest and most diverse group of potential voters, with distinct values and ideas. But the issues that affect young people are not being addressed because the youth don’t vote in enough numbers. That’s why we formed the Gauchos Vote coalition on campus with the VRVC, CALPIRG, and the office of the EVPSA. Check out our work in the Santa Barbara Newspress and the Daily Nexus! On Election Day we reached over 1300 students through hard Get Out The Vote contacts like phone conversations, pledges to vote, and helping students on campus make a plan for getting to their polling location. Including class announcements and social media outreach made over 5000 contact reminders to vote! Here we are hosting events like our Valentine’s Vote Day, Registration Deadline Event, and Party at the Polls!
Phase out Oil and Gas Drilling
Our campaign to phase out oil and gas drilling in California, establish a public health protection zones between drilling sites and our communities, and ensure a just transition for workers in the oil industry to clean energy developed this quarter out of our initial Ban Fracking campaign. We worked to educate our campus on the issue and host big, visible events to get media attention and encourage Governor Newsome to make the transition. We hosted a documentary screening of Gaslands with four faculty panelists discussing the environmental, public health, policy, and environmental justice angles on the issue. Our UC-Wide Human Oil Spill performance and press conference also got picked up in the Santa Barbara Newspress and the Daily Nexus!
Our statewide Affordable Textbooks campaign is working to address the high costs of textbooks that have been rising at 4x the rate of inflation and raise the profile of open educational resources in the news and on campus. Thank you to the 40 faculty members that have signed on in support and have pledged to consider open educational resources that are free for students to make up class materials instead. You can also sign on in support here or forward the link to faculty you think would be interested. We are also working to get a UC-wide grant program for open textbooks and after one of our members presented to UC-Regents this past week we are progressing in that realm as well.
Our national work on college affordability also got highlighted in the New York Times!
100% Renewable Energy Campus
In the midst of a climate crisis, we celebrate the leadership of our campus, and our Chancellor, on sustainability The Carbon Neutrality Initiative has been a great step forward and we are proud the UC system is acting as a national leader. Last year UC Berkeley took the next step and joined the national movement for 100 campuses committed to 100% Renewable Energy. So this year we are working to have UC Santa Barbara commit to 100% renewable energy sector-wide! If we can transition our electricity, transportation, and heating and cooling of facilities to renewables, we can ensure a sustainable future for generations to come and encourage other campuses to do so as well! In addition to over 1300 Gauchos who have signed the petition, 60 faculty, student leaders and organizations, and top level community leaders have signed on in support – including County Supervisor Joan Hartmann and renowned author and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben (pictured below)!